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The Crisis in Russia by Arthur Ransome

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THE characteristic of a revolutionary country is that change
is a quicker process there than elsewhere. As the revolution
recedes into the past the process of change slackens speed.
Russia is no longer the dizzying kaleidoscope that it was in
1917. No longer does it change visibly from week to week
as it changed in 19l8. Already, to get a clear vision of the
direction in which it is changing, it is necessary to visit it at
intervals of six months, and quite useless to tap the political
barometer several times a day as once upon a time one used
to do. . . . But it is still changing very fast. My jourrnal of

"Russia in 1919,"while giving as I believe a fairly accurate
pictureof the state of affairs in February and March of
1919, pictures a very different stage in the development of
the revolution from that which would be found by observers

The prolonged state of crisis in which the country has
been kept by external war, while strengthening the ruling
party by rallying even their enemies to their support, has had
the other effects that a national crisis always has on the
internal politics of a country. Methods of government which
in normal times would no doubt be softened or disguised by
ceremonial usage are used nakedly and justified by necessity.
We have seen the same thing in belligerent and non-revolutionary
countries, and, for the impartial student, it has
been interesting to observe that, when this test of crisis is
applied, the actual governmental machine in every country
looks very much like that in every other. They wave
different flags to stimulate enthusiasm and to justify
submission. But that is all. Under the stress of war, "
constitutional safeguards" go by the board "for the public
good," in Moscow as elsewhere. Under that stress it
becomes clear that, in spite of its novel constitution, Russia
is governed much as other countries are governed, the real
directive power lying in the hands of a comparatively small
body which is able by hook or crook to infect with its
conscious will a population largely indifferent and inert. A
visitor to Moscow to-day would find much of the
constitutional machinery that was in full working order in the
spring of 1919 now falling into rust and disrepair. He would
not be able once a week or so to attend All-Russian
Executive and hear discussions in this parliament of the
questions of the day. No one tries to shirk the fact that the
Executive Committee has fallen into desuetude, from which,
when the stress slackens enough to permit ceremonial that
has not an immediate agitational value, it may some day be
revived. The bulk of its members have been at the front or
here and there about the country wrestling with the
economic problem, and their work is more useful than their
chatter. Thus brutally is the thing stated. The continued
stress has made the muscles, the actual works, of the
revolution more visible than formerly. The working of the
machine is not only seen more clearly, but is also more
frankly stated (perhaps simply because they too see it now
more clearly), by the leaders themselves.

I want in this book to describe the working of the machine as
I now see it. But it is not only the machine which is more
nakedly visible than it was. The stress to which it is
being subjected has also not so much changed its character
as become easier of analysis. At least, I seem to myself to
see it differently. In the earlier days it seemed quite simply
the struggle between a revolutionary and non-revolutionary
countries. I now think that that struggle is a foolish,
unnecesary, lunatic incident which disguised from us the
existence of a far more serious struggle, in which the
revolutionary and non-revolutionary governments are
fighting on the same side. They fight without cooperation,
and throw insults and bullets at each other in the middle of
the struggle, but they are fighting for the same thing. They
are fighting the same enemy. Their quarrel with each other
is for both parties merely a harassing accompaniment of the
struggle to which all Europe is committed, for the salvage of
what is left of European civilization.

The threat of a complete collapse of civilization is more
imminent in Russia than elsewhere. But it is clear enough in
Poland, it cannot be disregarded in Germany, there is no
doubt of its existence in Italy, France is conscious of it; it is
only in England and America that this threat is not
among the waking nightmares of everybody. Unless the
struggle, which has hitherto been going against us, takes a
turn for the better, we shall presently be quite unable to
ignore it ourselves.

I have tried to state the position in Russia today: on the one
hand to describe the crisis itself, the threat which is forcing
these people to an extreme of effort, and on the other hand
to describe the organization that is facing that threat; on the
one hand to set down what are the main characteristics of
the crisis, on the other hand to show how the comparatively
small body of persons actually supplying the Russian people
with its directives set about the stupendous task of moving
that vast inert mass, not along the path of least resistance,
but along a path which, while alike unpleasant and extremely
difficult, does seem to them to promise some sort of
eventual escape.

No book is entirely objective, so I do not in the least mind
stating my own reason for writing this one (which has taken
time that I should have liked to spend on other and very
different things). Knowledge of this reason will permit the
reader to make allowances for such bias I have been
unable to avoid, and so, by judicious reading, to make my
book perhaps nearly as objective as I should myself wish it
to be.

It has been said that when two armies face each other across
a battle front and engage in mutual slaughter, they may be
considered as a single army engaged in suicide. Now it
seems to me that when countries, each one severally doing
its best to arrest its private economic ruin, do their utmost to
accelerate the economic ruin of each other, we are
witnessing something very like the suicide of civilization
itself. There are people in both camps who believe that
armed and economic conflict between revolutionary and
non-revolutionary Europe, or if you like between Capitalism
and Communism, is inevitable. These people, in both camps,
are doing their best to make it inevitable. Sturdy pessimists,
in Moscow no less than in London and Paris, they go so far
as to say "the sooner the better," and by all means in their
power try to precipitate a conflict. Now the main effort in
Russia to-day, the struggle which absorbs the chief attention
of all but the few Communist Churchills and Communist
Millerands who, blind to all else, demand an immediate
pitched battle over the prostrate body of civilization, is
directed to finding a way for Russia herself out of the
crisis, the severity of which can hardly be realized by people
who have not visited the country again and again, and to
bringing her as quickly as possible into a state in which she
can export her raw materials and import the manufactured
goods of which she stands in need. I believe that this struggle
is ours as well as Russia's, though we to whom the threat is
less imminent, are less desperately engaged. Victory or
defeat in this struggle in Russia, or anywhere else on the
world's surface, is victory or defeat for every one. The
purpose of my book is to make that clear. For, bearing that
in mind, I cannot but think that every honest man, of
whatever parity, who cares more for humanity than for
politics, must do his utmost to postpone the conflict which a
few extremists on each side of the barricades so fanatically
desire. If that conflict is indeed inevitable, its consequences

will be less devastating to a Europe cured of her wounds
than to a Europe scarcely, even by the most hopeful, to be
described as convalescent. But the conflict may not be
inevitable after all. No man not purblind but sees that
Communist Europe is changing no less than Capitalist
Europe. If we succeed in postponing the struggle long
enough, we may well succeed in postponing it until the
war-like on both sides look in vain for the reasons of their


The Shortage of Things
The Shortage of Men
The Communist Dictatorship
A Conference at Jaroslavl
The Trade Unions
The Propaganda Trains
Industrial Conscription
What the Communists Are Trying to do in Russia
Rykov on Economic plans and on the Transformation of the Communist Party

***I am indebted to the editor of the "Manchester Guardian" for
permission to make use in some of the chapters of this book of material
which has appeared in his paper.



Nothing can be more futile than to describe conditions in
Russia as a sort of divine punishment for revolution, or
indeed to describe them at all without emphasizing the fact
that the crisis in Russia is part of the crisis in Europe, and
has been in the main brought about like the revolution itself,
by the same forces that have caused, for example, the crisis
in Germany or the crisis in Austria.

No country in Europe is capable of complete economic
independence. In spite of her huge variety of natural
resources, the Russian organism seemed in 1914 to have
been built up on the generous assumption that with Europe
at least the country was to be permanently at peace, or at the
lost to engage in military squabbles which could be reckoned
in months, and would keep up the prestige of the
autocracy without seriously hampering imports and exports.
Almost every country in Europe, with the exception of
England, was better fitted to stand alone, was less
completely specialized in a single branch of production.
England, fortunately for herself, was not isolated during the
war, and will not become isolated unless the development of
the crisis abroad deprives her of her markets. England
produces practically no food, but great quantities of coal,
steel and manufactured goods. Isolate her absolutely, and
she will not only starve, but will stop producing
manufactured goods, steel and coal, because those who
usually produce these things will be getting nothing for their
labor except money which they will be unable to use to buy
dinners, because there will be no dinners to buy. That
supposititious case is a precise parallel to what has happened
in Russia. Russia produced practically no manufactured
goods (70 per cent. of her machinery she received from
abroad), but great quantities of food. The blockade isolated
her. By the blockade I do not mean merely the childish
stupidity committed by ourselves, but the blockade, steadily
increasing in strictness, which began in August, 1914,
and has been unnecessarily prolonged by our stupidity. The
war, even while for Russia it was not nominally a blockade,
was so actually. The use of tonnage was perforce restricted
to the transport of the necessaries of war, and these were
narrowly defined as shells, guns and so on, things which do
not tend to improve a country economically, but rather the
reverse. The imports from Sweden through Finland were no
sort of make-weight for the loss of Poland and Germany.

The war meant that Russia's ordinary imports practically
ceased. It meant a strain on Russia, comparable to that
which would have been put on England if the German
submarine campaign had succeeded in putting an end to our
imports of food from the Americas. From the moment of
the Declaration of War, Russia was in the position of one
"holding out," of a city standing a siege without a water
supply, for her imports were so necessary to her economy
that they may justly be considered as essential irrigation.
There could be no question for her of improvement, of
strengthening. She was faced with the fact until the war
should end she had to do with what she had, and that the
things she had formerly counted on importing would be
replaced by guns and shells, to be used, as it turned out, in
battering Russian property that happened to be in enemy
hands. She even learned that she had to develop
gun-making and shell-making at home, at the expense of those
other industries which to some small extent might have
helped her to keep going. And, just as in England such a
state of affairs would lead to a cessation of the output of iron
and coal in which England is rich, so in Russia, in spite of
her corn lands, it led to a shortage of food.

The Russian peasant formerly produced food, for which he
was paid in money. With that money, formerly, he was able
to clothe himself, to buy the tools of his labor, and further,
though no doubt he never observed the fact, to pay for the
engines and wagons that took his food to market. A huge
percentage of the clothes and the tools and the engines and
the wagons and the rails came from abroad, and even those
factories in Russia which were capable of producing such
things were, in many essentials, themselves dependent upon
imports. Russian towns began to be hungry in 1915. In
October of that year the Empress reported to the
Emperor that the shrewd Rasputin had seen in a vision that it
was necessary to bring wagons with flour, butter and sugar
from Siberia, and proposed that for three days nothing else
should be done. Then there would be no strikes. "He
blesses you for the arrangement of these trains." In 1916 the
peasants were burying their bread instead of bringing it to
market. In the autumn of 1916 I remember telling certain
most incredulous members of the English Government that
there would be a most serious food shortage in Russia in the
near future. In 1917 came the upheaval of the revolution, in

1918 peace, but for Russia, civil war and the continuance of
the blockade. By July, 1919, the rarity of manufactured
goods was such that it was possible two hundred miles south
of Moscow to obtain ten eggs for a box of matches, and the
rarity of goods requiring distant transport became such that
in November, 1919, in Western Russia, the peasants would
sell me nothing for money, whereas my neighbor in the train
bought all he wanted in exchange for small quantities of salt.

It was not even as if, in vital matters, Russia started the
war in a satisfactory condition. The most vital of all
questions in a country of huge distances must necessarily be
that of transport. It is no exaggerationto say that only by
fantastic efforts was Russian transport able to save its face
and cover its worst deficiencies even before the war began.
The extra strain put upon it by the transport of troops and
the maintenance of the armies exposed its weakness, and
with each succeeding week of war, although in 19l6 and
1917 Russia did receive 775 locomotives from abroad,
Russian transport went from bad to worse, making inevitable
a creeping paralysis of Russian economic life, during the
latter already acute stages of which the revolutionaries
succeeded to the disease that had crippled their precursors.

In 1914 Russia had in all 20,057 locomotives, of which
15,047 burnt coal, 4,072 burnt oil and 938 wood. But that
figure of twenty thousand was more impressive for a
Government official, who had his own reasons for desiring
to be impressed, than for a practical railway engineer, since
of that number over five thousand engines were more than
twenty years old, over two thousand were more than thirty
years old, fifteen hundred were more than forty years
old, and 147 patriarchs had passed their fiftieth birthday. Of
the whole twenty thousand only 7,108 were under ten years
of age. That was six years ago. In the meantime Russia has
been able to make in quantities decreasing during the last
five years by 40 and 50 per cent. annually, 2,990 new
locomotives. In 1914 of the locomotives then in Russia
about 17,000 were in working condition. In 1915 there
were, in spite of 800 new ones, only 16,500. In 1916 the
number of healthy locomotives was slightly higher, owing
partly to the manufacture of 903 at home in the preceding
year and partly to the arrival of 400 from abroad. In 1917 in

spite of the arrival of a further small contingent the number
sank to between 15,000 and 16,000. Early in 1918 the
Germans in the Ukraine and elsewhere captured 3,000.
Others were lost in the early stages of the civil war. The
number of locomotives fell from 14,519 in January to 8,457
in April, after which the artificially instigated revolt of the
Czecho-Slovaks made possible the fostering of civil war on a
large scale, and the number fell swiftly to 4,679 in
December. In 1919 the numbers varied less markedly,
but the decline continued, and in December last year 4,141
engines were in working order. In January this year the
number was 3,969, rising slightly in February, when the
number was 4,019. A calculation was made before the war
that in the best possible conditions the maximum Russian
output of engines could be not more than1,800 annually.
At this rate in ten years the Russians could restore their
collection of engines to something like adequate numbers.
Today, thirty years would be an inadequate estimate, for
some factories, like the Votkinsky, have been purposely
ruined by the Whites, in others the lathes and other
machinery for building and repairing locomotives are worn
out, many of the skilled engineers were killed in the war with
Germany, many others in defending the revolution, and it
will be long before it will be possible to restore to the
workmen or to the factories the favorable material
conditions of 1912-13. Thus the main fact in the present
crisis is that Russia possesses one-fifth of the number of
locomotives which in 1914 was just sufficient to maintain
her railway system in a state of efficiency which to English
observers at that time was a joke. For six years she has
been unable to import the necessary machinery for making
engines or repairing them. Further, coal and oil have been,
until recently, cut off by the civil war. The coal mines are
left, after the civil war, in such a condition that no
considerable output may be expected from them in the near
future. Thus, even those engines which exist have had their
efficiency lessened by being adapted in a rough and ready
manner for burning wood fuel instead of that for which they
were designed.

Let us now examine the combined effect of ruined transport
and the six years' blockade on Russian life in town and
country. First of all was cut off the import of manufactured

goods from abroad. That has had a cumulative effect
completed, as it were, and rounded off by the breakdown of
transport. By making it impossible to bring food, fuel and
raw material to the factories, the wreck of transport makes it
impossible for Russian industry to produce even that
modicum which it contributed to the general supply of
manufactured goods which the Russian peasant was
accustomed to receive in exchange for his production of
food. On the whole the peasant himself eats rather
more than he did before the war. But he has no matches, no
salt, no clothes, no boots, no tools. The Communists are
trying to put an end to illiteracy in Russia, and in the villages
the most frequent excuse for keeping children from school is
a request to come and see them, when they will be found, as
I have seen them myself, playing naked about the stove,
without boots or anything but a shirt, if that, in which to go
and learn to read and write. Clothes and such things as
matches are, however, of less vital importance than tools, the
lack of which is steadily reducing Russia's actual power of
food production. Before the war Russia needed from
abroad huge quantities of agricultural implements, not only
machines, but simple things like axes, sickles, scythes. In
1915 her own production of these things had fallen to 15.1
per cent. of her already inadequate peacetime output. In
1917 it had fallen to 2.1 per cent. The Soviet Government
is making efforts to raise it, and is planning new factories
exclusively for the making of these things. But, with
transport in such a condition, a new factory means
merely a new demand for material and fuel which there are
neither engines nor wagons to bring. Meanwhile, all over
Russia, spades are worn out, men are plowing with burnt
staves instead of with plowshares, scratching the surface of
the ground, and instead of harrowing with a steel-spiked
harrow of some weight, are brushing the ground with light
constructions of wooden spikes bound together with wattles.

The actual agricultural productive powers of Russia are
consequently sinking. But things are no better if we turn from
the rye and corn lands to the forests. Saws are worn
out. Axes are worn out. Even apart from that, the shortage
of transport affects the production of wood fuel, lack of
which reacts on transport and on the factories and so on in a
circle from which nothing but a large import of engines and
wagons will provide an outlet. Timber can be floated down

the rivers. Yes, but it must be brought to the rivers. Surely
horses can do that. Yes, but, horses must be fed, and oats
do not grow in the forests. For example, this spring (1920)
the best organized timber production was in Perm
Government. There sixteen thousand horses have been
mobilized for the work, but further development is
impossible for lack of forage. A telegram bitterly reports,
"Two trains of oats from Ekaterinburg are expected day by
day. If the oats arrive in time a considerable success will be
possible." And if the oats do not arrive in time? Besides, not
horses alone require to be fed. The men who cut the wood
cannot do it on empty stomachs. And again rises a cry for
trains, that do not arrive, for food that exists somewhere, but
not in the forest where men work. The general effect of the
wreck of transport on food is stated as follows: Less than 12
per cent. of the oats required, less than 5 per cent. of the
bread and salt required for really efficient working, were
brought to the forests. Nonetheless three times as much
wood has been prepared as the available transport has

The towns suffer from lack of transport, and from the
combined effect on the country of their productive weakness
and of the loss of their old position as centres through which
the country received its imports from abroad. Townsfolk
and factory workers lack food, fuel, raw materials and much
else that in a civilized State is considered a necessary of life.
Thus, ten million poods of fish were caught last year, but
there were no means of bringing them from the fisheries to
the great industrial centres where they were most needed.
Townsfolk are starving, and in winter, cold. People living in
rooms in a flat, complete strangers to each other, by general
agreement bring all their beds into the kitchen. In the
kitchen soup is made once a day. There is a little warmth
there beside the natural warmth of several human beings in a
small room. There it is possible to sleep. During the whole
of last winter, in the case I have in mind, there were no
means of heating the other rooms, where the temperature
was almost always far below freezing point. It is difficult to
make the conditions real except by individual examples. The
lack of medicines, due directly to the blockade, seems to
have small effect on the imagination when simply stated as
such. Perhaps people will realize what it means when
instead of talking of the wounded undergoing operations

without anesthetics I record the case of an acquaintance, a
Bolshevik, working in a Government office, who suffered
last summer from a slight derangement of the stomach due
to improper and inadequate feeding. His doctor
prescribed a medicine, and nearly a dozen different
apothecaries were unable to make up the prescription for
lack of one or several of the simple ingredients required.
Soap has become an article so rare (in Russia as in Germany
during the blockade and the war there is a terrible absence of
fats) that for the present it is to be treated as a means of
safeguarding labor, to be given to the workmen for washing
after and during their work, and in preference to miners,
chemical, medical and sanitary workers, for whose
efficiency and health it is essential. The proper washing of
underclothes is impossible. To induce the population of
Moscow to go to the baths during the typhus epidemic, it
was sufficient bribe to promise to each person beside the
free bath a free scrap of soap. Houses are falling into
disrepair for want of plaster, paint and tools. Nor is it
possible to substitute one thing for another, for Russia's
industries all suffer alike from their dependence on the West,
as well as from the inadequacy of the transport to bring to
factories the material they need. People remind each other
that during the war the Germans, when similarly hard put to
it for clothes, made paper dresses, table-cloths, etc. In
Russia the nets used in paper-making are worn out. At last,
in April, 1920 (so Lenin told me), there seemed to be a hope
of getting new ones from abroad. But the condition of the
paper industry is typical of all, in a country which, it should
not be forgotten, could be in a position to supply wood-pulp
for other countries besides itself. The factories are able to
produce only sixty per cent. of demands that have
previously, by the strictest scrutiny, been reduced to a
minimum before they are made. The reasons, apart from
the lack of nets and cloths, are summed up in absence of
food, forage and finally labor. Even when wood is brought
by river the trouble is not yet overcome. The horses are
dead and eaten or starved and weak. Factories have to cease
working so that the workmen, themselves underfed, can drag
the wood from the barges to the mills. It may well be
imagined what the effect of hunger, cold, and the
disheartenment consequent on such conditions of work and
the seeming hopelessness of the position have on the
productivity of labor, the fall in which reacts on all the
industries, on transport, on the general situation and so again

on itself.

Mr. J. M. Keynes, writing with Central Europe in his
mind (he is, I think, as ignorant of Russia as I am of
Germany), says: "What then is our picture of Europe? A
country population able to support life on the fruits of its
own agricultural production, but without the accustomed
surplus for the towns, and also (as a result of the lack of
imported materials, and so of variety and amount in the
salable manufactures of the towns) without the usual
incentives to market food in exchange for other wares; an
industrial population unable to keep its strength for lack of
food, unable to earn a livelihood for lack of materials, and
so unable to make good by imports from abroad the failure
of productivity at home ."

Russia is an emphasized engraving, in which every
line of that picture is bitten in with repeated washes of acid.
Several new lines, however, are added to the drawing, for in Russia
the processes at work elsewhere have gone further than in
the rest of Europe, and it is possible to see dimly, in faint
outline, the new stage of decay which is threatened. The
struggle to arrest decay is the real crisis of the revolution, of
Russia, and, not impossibly, of Europe. For each
country that develops to the end in this direction is a
country lost to the economic comity of Europe. And, as one
country follows another over the brink, so will the remaining
countries be faced by conditions of increasingly narrow
self-dependence, in fact by the very conditions which in
Russia, so far, have received their clearest, most forcible


In the preceding chapter I wrote of Russia's many wants, and
of the processes visibly at work, tending to make her
condition worse and not better. But I wrote of things, not
of people. I wrote of the shortage of this and of that, but
not of the most serious of all shortages, which, while itself
largely due to those already discussed, daily intensifies them,
and points the way to that further stage of decay which is
threatened in the near future in Russia, and, in the more
distant future in Europe. I did not write of the shortage
deterioration of labor.

Shortage of labor is not peculiar to Russia. It is among the
postwar phenomena common to all countries. The war and
its accompanying eases have cost Europe, including Russia,
an enormous number of able-bodied men. Many millions of
others have lost the habit of regular work.German
industrialists complain that they cannot get labor, and that
when they get it, it is not productive. I heard complaints on
the same subject in England. But just as the economic crisis,
due in the first instance to the war and the isolation it
imposed, has gone further in Russia than elsewhere, so the
shortage of labor, at present a handicap, an annoyance in
more fortunate countries, is in Russia perhaps the greatest of
the national dangers. Shortage of labor cannot be measured
simply by the decreasing numbers of the workmen. If it
takes two workmen as long to do a particular job in 1920 as
it took one man to do it in 1914, then, even if the number
of workman has remained the same, the actual supply of
labor has been halved. And in Russia the situation is worse
than that. For example, in the group of State metal-working
factories, those, in fact which may be considered as the
weapon with which Russia is trying to cut her way out of her
transport difficulties, apart from the fact that there were in
19l6 81,600 workmen, whereas in 1920 there are only
42,500, labor has deteriorated in the most appalling manner.
In 1916 in these factories 92 per cent. of the nominal
working hours were actually kept; in 1920 work goes on
during only 60 per cent. of the nominal hours. It is
estimated that the labor of a single workman produces now
only one quarter of what it produced in 1916. To take
another example, also from workmen engaged in transport,
that is to say, in the most important of all work at the present
time: in the Moscow junction of the Moscow Kazan
Railway, between November 1st and February 29th (1920),
292 workmen and clerks missed 12,048 working days, being
absent, on in average, forty days per man in the four
months. In Moscow passenger-station on this line, 22
workmen missed in November 106 days, in December 273,
in January 338, and in February 380; in an appalling

crescendo further illustrated by the wagon department,
where 28 workmen missed in November 104 days and in
February 500. In November workmen absented themselves
for single days. In February the same workmen were absent
for the greater part of the month. The invariable excuse was
illness. Many cases of illness there undoubtedly were, since
this period was the worst of the typhus epidemic, but besides
illness, and besides mere obvious idleness which no
doubt accounts for a certain proportion of illegitimate
holidays, there is another explanation which goes nearer the
root of the matter. Much of the time filched from the State
was in all probability spent in expeditions in search of food.
In Petrograd, the Council of Public Economy complain that
there is a tendency to turn the eight-hour day into a four-hour
day. Attempts are being made to arrest this tendency
by making an additional food allowance conditional on the
actual fulfilment of working days. In the Donetz coal basin,
the monthly output per man was in 1914 750 poods, in 1916
615 poods, in 1919 240 poods (figures taken from
Ekaterinoslav Government), and in 1920 theoutput per man
is estimated at being something near 220 poods.
In the shale mines on the Volga, where food conditions are
comparatively good, productivity is comparatively high.
Thus in a small mine near Simbirsk there are 230 workmen,
of' whom 50 to 60 are skilled. The output for the unskilled
is 28.9 poods in a shift, for the skilled 68.3. But even there
25 per cent. of the workmen are regular absentees, and
actually the mine works only 17 or 18 days in a month, that
is, 70 per cent. of the normal number of working
days. The remaining 30 per cent. of normal working time is
spent by the workmen in getting food. Another small mine
in the same district is worked entirely by unskilled labor,
the wokers being peasants from the neighboring villages. In this
mine the productivity per man is less, but all the men work
full time. They do not have to waste time in securing food,
because, being local peasants, they are supplied by their own
villages and families. In Moscow and Petrograd food is far
more difficult to secure, more time is wasted on that
hopeless task; even with that waste of time, the workman is
not properly fed, and it cannot be wondered at that his
productivity is low.

Something, no doubt, is due to the natural character of the
Russians, which led Trotsky to define man as an animal

distinguished by laziness. Russians are certainly lazy, and
probably owe to their climate their remarkable incapacity for
prolonged effort. The Russian climate is such that over
large areas of Russia the Russian peasant is accustomed, and
has been accustomed for hundreds of years, to perform
prodigies of labor during two short periods of sowing
and harvest, and to spend the immensely long and
monotonous winter in a hibernation like that of the snake or
the dormouse. There is a much greater difference between a
Russian workman's normal output and that of which he is
capable for a short time if he sets himself to it, than there is
between the normal and exceptional output of an
Englishman, whose temperate climate has not taught him to
regard a great part of the year as a period of mere waiting
for and resting from the extraordinary effort of a few
weeks.(*) [(*)Given any particular motive, any particula
enthusiasm, or visible, desirable object, even the hungry
Russian workmen of to-day are capable of sudden and
temporary increase of output. The "Saturdayings" (see p. 119)
provide endless illustrations of this. They had something in
the character of a picnic, they were novel, they were out of
the routine, and the productivity of labor during a "Saturdaying"
was invariably higher than on a weekday. For example,
there is a shortage of paper for cigarettes. People roll
cigarettes in old newspapers. It occurred to the Central Committee
of the Papermakers' Union to organize a "Sundaying"
with the object of sending cigarette paper to the soldiers in
the Red Army. Six factories took part. Here is a table showing the
output of these factories during the "Sundaying" and the average
weekday output. The figures are in poods.

Made on Average week
Factory the Sunday Day Output


But this uneven working temperament was characteristic of
the Russian before the war as well as now. It has been said
that the revolution removed the stimulus to labor, and left the
Russian laziness to have its way. In the first period
of the revolution that may have been true. It is becoming
day by day less true. The fundamental reasons of low
productivity will not be found in any sudden or unusual
efflorescence of idleness, but in economic conditions which
cannot but reduce the productivity of idle and industrious
alike. Insufficient feeding is one such reason. The
proportion of working time consumed in foraging is another.
But the whole of my first chapter may be taken as a compact
mass of reasons why the Russians at the present time should
not work with anything like a normal productivity. It is said
that bad workmen complain of their tools, but even good
ones become disheartened if compelled to work with
makeshifts, mended tools, on a stock of materials that runs
out from one day to the next, in factories where the
machinery may come at any moment to a standstill from lack
of fuel. There would thus be a shortage of labor in Russia,
even if the numbers of workmen were the same today as
they were before the war. Unfortunately that is not so.
Turning from the question of low productivity per man to
that of absolute shortage of men: the example given at the
beginning of this chapter, showing that in the most important
group of factories the number of workmen has fallen 50 per
cent. is by no means exceptional. Walking through the
passages of what used to be the Club of the Nobles, and is
now the house of the Trades Unions during the recent
Trades Union Congress in Moscow, I observed among a
number of pictorial diagrams on the walls, one in particular
illustrating the rise and fall of the working population of
Moscow during a number of years. Each year was
represented by the picture of a factory with a chimney which
rose and fell with the population. From that diagram I took
the figures for 1913, 1918 and 1919. These figures should
be constantly borne in mind by any one who wishes to realize
how catastrophic the shortage oflabor in Russia
actually is, and to judge how sweeping may be the
changes in the social configuration of the country if that shortage
continues to increase. Here are the figures:

Workmen in Moscow in 1913............159,344
Workmen in Moscow in 1918 ...........157,282
Workmen in Moscow in 1919............105,210

That is to say, that one-third of the workmen of Moscow

ceased to live there, or ceased to be workmen, in the course
of a single year. A similar phenomenon is observable in
each one of the big industrial districts.

What has become of those workmen?

A partial explanation is obvious. The main impulse of the
revolution came from the town workers. Of these, the metal
workers were the most decided, and those who most freely
joined the Red Guard in the early and the Red Army in the
later days of the revolution. Many, in those early days, when
there was more enthusiasm than discipline, when there were
hardly any experienced officers, and those without much
authority, were slaughtered during the German advance of
1918. The first mobilizations, when conscription was
introduced, were among the workers in the great industrial
districts. The troops from Petrograd and Moscow,
exclusively workmen's regiments, have suffered more than
any other during the civil war, being the most dependable
and being thrown, like the guards of old time, into the worst
place at any serious crisis. Many thousands of them have
died for the sake of the revolution which, were they living,
they would be hard put to it to save. (The special shortage of
skilled workers is also partially to be explained by the
indiscriminate mobilizations of 1914-15, when great
numbers of the most valuable engineers and other skilled
workers were thrown into the front line, and it was not
until their loss was already felt that the Tsar's Government in this
matter came belatedly to its senses.)

But these explanations are only partial. The more general
answer to the question, What has become of the workmen?
lies in the very economic crisis which their absence
accentuates. Russia is unlike England, where starvation of
the towns would be practically starvation of the whole
island. In Russia, if a man is hungry, he has only to
walk far enough and he will come to a place where there is
plenty to eat. Almost every Russian worker retains in some
form or other connection with a village, where, if he returns,
he will not be an entire stranger, but at worst a poor relation,
and quite possibly an honored guest. It is not surprising that
many thousands have "returned to the land" in this way.

Further, if a workman retains his connection, both with a
distant village and with a town, he can keep himself and his
family fat and prosperous by ceasing to be a workman, and,
instead, traveling on the buffers or the roof of a railway
wagon, and bringing back with him sacks of flour and
potatoes for sale in the town at fantastic prices. Thereby he
is lost to productive labor, and his uncomfortable but
adventurous life becomes directly harmful, tending to
increase the strain on transport, since it is obviously
more economical to transport a thousand sacks than to transport a
thousand sacks with an idle workman attached to each sack.
Further, his activities actually make it more difficult for the
town population to get food. By keeping open for the
village the possibility of selling at fantastic prices, he lessens
the readiness of the peasants to part with their
flour at the lower prices of the Government. Nor is it as if
his activities benefited the working population. The food he
brings in goes for the most part to those who have plenty of
money or have things to exchange for it. And honest men in
Russia to-day have not much money, and those who have
things to exchange are not as a rule workmen. The theory
of this man's harmfulness is, I know, open to argument, but
the practice at least is exactly as I have stated it, and is
obviously attractive to the individual who prefers adventure
on a full stomach to useful work on an empty. Setting aside
the theory with its latent quarrel between Free Trade and
State control, we can still recognize that each workman
engaged in these pursuits has become an unproductive
middleman, one of that very parasitic species which the
revolutionaries had hoped to make unnecessary. It is bad
from the revolutionary point of view if a workman is so
employed, but it is no less bad from the point of view of
people who do not care twopence about the revolution one
way or the other, but do care about getting Russia on her
feet again and out of her economic crisis. It is bad
enough if an unskilled workman is so employed. It is far
worse if a skilled workman finds he can do better for himself
as a "food speculator" than by the exercise of his legitimate
craft. From mines, from every kind of factory come
complaints of the decreasing proportion of skilled to
unskilled workmen. The superior intelligence of the skilled
worker offers him definite advantages should he engage in
these pursuits, and his actual skill gives him other advantages
in the villages. He can leave his factory and go to the
village, there on the spot to ply his trade or variations of it,

when as a handy man, repairing tools, etc., he will make an
easy living and by lessening the dependence of the village on
the town do as much as the "food speculator" in worsening
the conditions of the workman he has left behind.

And with that we come to the general changes in the social
geography of Russia which are threatened if the processes
now at work continue unchecked. The relations between
town and village are the fundamental problem of the
revolution. Town and countryside are in sharp contradiction
daily intensified by the inability of the towns to supply
the country's needs. The town may be considered as a single
productive organism, with feelers stretching into the country,
and actual outposts there in the form of agricultural
enterprises taking their directives from the centre and
working as definite parts of the State organism. All round
this town organism, in all its interstices, it too, with its feelers
in the form of "food speculators," is the anarchic chaos of
the country, consisting of a myriad independent units,
regulated by no plan, without a brain centre of any kind.
Either the organized town will hold its own against and
gradually dominate and systematize the country chaos, or
that chaos little by little will engulf the town organism.
Every workman who leaves the town automatically places
himself on the side of the country in that struggle. And
when a town like Moscow loses a third of its working
population in a year, it is impossible not to see that, so far,
the struggle is going in favor of that huge chaotic,
unconscious but immensely powerful countryside. There is
even a danger that the town may become divided against
itself. Just as scarcity of food leads to food speculation, so
the shortage of labor is making possible a sort of
speculation in labor. The urgent need of labor has led to a
resurrection of the methods of the direct recruiting of
workmen in the villages by the agents of particular factories,
who by exceptional terms succeed in getting workmen where
the Government organs fail. And, of course, this recruiting
is not confined to the villages. Those enterprises which are
situated in the corn districts are naturally able to offer better
conditions, for the sake of which workmen are ready to
leave their jobs and skilled workmen to do unskilled work,
and the result can only be a drainage of good workmen away
from the hungry central industrial districts where they are
most of all needed.

Summing up the facts collected in this chapter and in the
first on the lack of things and the lack of men, I think the
economic crisis in Russia may be fairly stated as follows:
Owing to the appalling condition of Russian transport, and
owing to the fact that since 1914 Russia has been practically
in a state of blockade, the towns have lost their power of
supplying, either as middlemen or as producers, the simplest
needs of the villages. Partly owing to this, partly again
because of the condition of transport, the towns are not
receiving the necessaries of life in sufficient quantities. The
result of this is a serious fall in the productivity of labor, and
a steady flow of skilled and unskilled workmen from the
towns towards the villages, and from employments the
exercise of which tends to assist the towns in recovering
their old position as essential sources of supply to
employments that tend to have the opposite effect. If this
continues unchecked, it will make impossible the
regeneration of Russian industry, and will result in the
increasing independence of the villages, which will tend to
become entirely self-supporting communities, tilling the
ground in a less and less efficient manner, with ruder tools,
with less and less incentive to produce more than is wanted
for the needs of the village itself. Russia, in these
circumstances, may sink into something very like barbarism,
for with the decay of the economic importance of the towns
would decay also their authority, and free-booting on a small
and large scale would become profitable and not very
dangerous. It would be possible, no doubt, for foreigners to
trade with the Russians as with the natives of the cannibal
islands, bartering looking-glasses and cheap tools, but,
should such a state of things come to be, it would mean long
years of colonization, with all the new possibilities and risks
involved in the subjugation of a free people, before Western
Europe could count once more on getting a considerable
portion of its food from Russian corn lands.

That is the position, those the natural tendencies at work.
But opposed to these tendencies are the united efforts of the
Communists and of those who, leaving the question of
Communism discreetly aside, work with them for the sake of
preventing such collapse of Russian civilization. They
recognize the existence of every one of the tendencies I have
described, but they are convinced that every one of these
tendencies will be arrested. They believe that the country

will not conquer the town but the reverse. So far from
expecting the unproductive stagnation described in the last
paragraph, they think of Russia as of the natural food supply
of Europe, which the Communists among them believe will,
in course of time, be made up for "Working Men's
Republics" (though, for the sake of their own Republic, they
are not inclined to postpone trade with Europe until that
epoch arrives). At the very time when spades and sickles are
wearing out or worn out, these men are determined that the
food output of Russia shall sooner or later be increased by
the introduction of better methods of agriculture and
farming on a larger scale. We are witnessing in Russia the
first stages of a titanic struggle, with on one side all the
forces of nature leading apparently to an inevitable collapse
of civilization, and on the other side nothing but the
incalculable force of human will.


How is that will expressed? What is the organization welded
by adversity which, in this crisis, supersedes even the Soviet
Constitution, and stands between this people and chaos?

It is a commonplace to say that Russia is ruled, driven if you
like, cold, starving as she is, to effort after effort by the
dictatorship of a party. It is a commonplace alike in the
mouths of those who wish to make the continued existence
of that organization impossible and in the mouths of the
Communists themselves. At the second congress of the
Third International, Trotsky remarked. "A party as such, in
the course of the development of a revolution, becomes
identical with the revolution." Lenin, on the same occasion,
replying to a critic who said that he differed from, the
Communists in his understanding of what was meant by the
Dictatorship of the Proletariat, said, "He says that we
understand by the words 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat'
what is actually the dictatorship of its determined and
conscious minority. And that is the fact." Later he asked,
"What is this minority? It may be called a party. If this

minority is actually conscious, if it is able to draw the
masses after it, if it shows itself capable of replying to every
question on the agenda list of the political day, it actually
constitutes a party." And Trotsky again, on the same
occasion, illustrated the relative positions of the Soviet
Constitution and the Communist Party when he said, "And
today, now that we have received an offer of peace from the
Polish Government, who decides the question? Whither are
the workers to turn? We have our Council of People's
Commissaries, of course, but that, too, must be under a
certain control. Whose control? The control of the working
class as a formless chaotic mass? No. The Central
Committee of the party is called together to discuss and
decide the question. And when we have to wage war, to
form new divisions, to find the best elements for them-to
whom do we turn? To the party, to the Central Committee.
And it gives directives to the local committees, 'Send
Communists to the front.' The case is precisely the same
with the Agrarian question, with that of supply, and with all
other questions whatsoever."

No one denies these facts, but their mere statement is quite
inadequate to explain what is being done in Russia and how
it is being done. I do not think it would be a waste of time
to set down as briefly as possible, without the comments of
praise or blame that would be inevitable from one primarily
interested in the problem from the Capitalist or Communist
point of view what, from observation and inquiry, I believe
to be the main framework of the organization whereby that
dictatorship of the party works.

The Soviet Constitution is not so much moribund as in
abeyance. The Executive Committee, for example, which
used to meet once a week or even oftener, now meets on the
rarest occasions. Criticism on this account was met with the
reply that the members of the Executive Committee, for
example, which used to meet once a week or even oftener,
now meets on the rarest occasions. Criticism on this account
was met with the reply that the members of the Executive
Committee were busy on the front and in various parts of
Russia. As a matter of fact, the work which that Committee
used to do is now done by Central Committee of the
Bolshevik Party, so that the bulk of the 150 members of

the Central Executive are actually free for other work, a
saving of something like 130 men. This does not involve
any very great change, but merely an economy in the use of
men. In the old days, as I well remember, the opening of a
session of the Executive Committee was invariably late, the
reason being that the various parties composing it had not
yet finished their preliminary and private discussions. There
is now an overwhelming Communist majority in the
Executive Committee, as elsewhere. I think it may be
regarded as proved that these majorities are not always
legitimately obtained. Non-Communist delegates do
undoubtedly find every kind of difficulty put in their way by
the rather Jesuitical adherents of the faith. But. no matter
how these majorities are obtained, the result is that when the
Communist Party has made up its mind on any subject, it is
so certain of being able to carry its point that the calling
together of the All-Russian Executive Committee is merely a
theatrical demonstration of the fact that it can do what it
likes. When it does meet, the Communists allow the
microscopical opposition great liberty of speech, listen
quietly, cheer ironically, and vote like one man, proving
on every occasion that the meeting of the Executive
Committee was the idlest of forms, intended rather to satisfy
purists than for purposes of discussion, since the real
discussion has all taken place beforehand among the
Communists themselves. Something like this must happen
with every representative assembly at which a single party
has a great preponderance and a rigid internal discipline.
The real interest is in the discussion inside the Party

This state of affairs would probably be more actively
resented if the people were capable of resenting anything
but their own hunger, or of fearing anything but a general
collapse which would turn that hunger into starvation. It
must be remembered that the urgency of the economic crisis
has driven political questions into the background. The
Communists (compare Rykov's remarks on this subject,
p. 175) believe that this is the natural result of social
revolution. They think that political parties will disappear
altogether and that people will band together, not for the
victory of one of several contending political parties, but
solely for economic cooperation or joint enterprise in art
or science. In support of this they point to the number of

their opponents who have become Communists, and to the
still greater number of non-Communists who are loyally
working with them for the economic reconstruction of the
country. I do not agree with the Communists in this, nor yet
with their opponents, who attribute the death of political
discussion to fear of the Extraordinary Commission. I think
that both the Communists and their opponents underestimate
the influence of the economic ruin that affects everybody.
The latter particularly, feeling that in some way they must
justify themselves to politically minded foreign visitors, seek
an excuse for their apathy in the one institution that is almost
universally unpopular. I have many non-Communist friends
in Russia, but have never detected the least restraint that
could be attributed to fear of anybody in their criticisms of
the Communist regime. The fear existed alike among
Communists and non-Communists, but it was like the fear of
people walking about in a particularly bad thunderstorm.
The activities and arrests of the Extraordinary Commission
are so haphazard, often so utterly illogical, that it is quite
idle for any one to say to himself that by following any given
line of conduct he will avoid molestation. Also, there is
something in the Russian character which makes any
prohibition of discussion almost an invitation to discuss. I
have never met a Russian who could be prevented from
saying whatever he liked whenever he liked, by any threats
or dangers whatsoever. The only way to prevent a Russian
from talking is to cut out his tongue. The real reason for the
apathy is that, for the moment, for almost everybody
political questions are of infinitesimal importance in
comparison with questions of food and warmth. The
ferment of political discussion that filled the first years of the
revolution has died away, and people talk about little but
what they are able to get for dinner, or what somebody else
his been able to get. I, like other foreign visitors coming to
Russia after feeding up in other countries, am all agog to
make people talk. But the sort of questions which interest
me, with my full-fed stomach, are brushed aside almost
fretfully by men who have been more or less hungry for two
or three years on end.

I find, instead of an urgent desire to alter this or that at
once, to-morrow, in the political complexion of the country,
a general desire to do the best that can be done with things
as they are, a general fear of further upheaval of any kind, in

fact a general acquiescence in the present state of affairs
politically, in the hope of altering the present state of affairs
economically. And this is entirely natural. Everybody,
Communists included, rails bitterly at the inefficiencies of
the present system, but everybody, Anti-Communists
included, admits that there is nothing whatever capable of
taking its place. Its failure is highly undesirable, not because
it itself is good, but because such failure would be preceded
or followed by a breakdown of all existing organizations.
Food distribution, inadequate as it now is, would come to an
end. The innumerable non-political committees, which are
rather like Boards of Directors controlling the Timber, Fur,
Fishery, Steel, Matches or other Trusts (since the
nationalized industries can be so considered) would collapse,
and with them would collapse not only yet one more hope of
keeping a breath of life in Russian industry, but also the
actual livelihoods of a great number of people, both
Communists and non-Communists. I do not think it is
realized out-side Russia how large a proportion of the
educated classes have become civil servants of one kind or
another. It is a rare thing when a whole family has left
Russia, and many of the most embittered partisans of war on
Russia have relations inside Russia who have long ago found
places under the new system, and consequently fear its
collapse as much as any one. One case occurs to me in
which a father was an important minister in one of the
various White Governments which have received Allied
support, while his son inside Russia was doing pretty well as
a responsible official under the Communists. Now in the
event of a violent change, the Communists would be outlaws
with a price on every head, and those who have worked with
them, being Russians, know their fellow countrymen well
enough to be pretty well convinced that the mere fact that
they are without cards of the membership of the Communist
Party, would not save them in the orgy of slaughter that
would follow any such collapse.

People may think that I underestimate the importance of, the
Extraordinary Commission. I am perfectly aware that
without this police force with its spies, its prisons and its
troops, the difficulties of the Dictatorship would be
increased by every kind of disorder, and the chaos, which I
fear may come, would have begun long ago. I believe, too,
that the overgrown power of the Extraordinary Commission,

and the cure that must sooner or later be applied to it, may,
as in the French Revolution, bring about the collapse of the
whole system. The Commission depends for its strength on
the fear of something else. I have seen it weaken when there
was a hope of general peace. I have seen it tighten its grip in
the presence of attacks from without and attempted
assassination within. It is dreaded by everybody; not even
Communists are safe from it; but it does not suffice to
explain the Dictatorship, and is actually entirely irrelevant to
the most important process of that Dictatorship, namely, the
adoption of a single idea, a single argument, by the whole of
a very large body of men. The whole power of the
Extraordinary Commission does not affect in the slightest
degree discussions inside the Communist Party, and those
discussions are the simple fact distinguishing the Communist
Dictatorship from any of the other dictatorships by
which it may be supplanted.

There are 600,000 members of the Communist Party
(611,978 on April 2, 1920). There are nineteen members of
the Central Committee of that party. There are, I believe,
five who, when they agree, can usually sway the remaining
fourteen. There is no need to wonder how these fourteen
can be argued into acceptance of the views of the still
smaller inner ring, but the process of persuading the six
hundred thousand of the desirability of, for example, such
measures as those involved in industrial conscription which,
at first sight, was certainly repugnant to most of them, is the
main secret of the Dictatorship, and is not in any way
affected by the existence of the Extraordinary Commission.

Thus the actual government of Russia at the present time
may be not unfairly considered as a small group inside the
Central Committee of the Communist Party. This small
group is able to persuade the majority of the remaining
members of that Committee. The Committee then sets
about persuading the majority of the party. In the case of
important measures the process is elaborate. The
Committee issues a statement of its case, and the party
newspapers the Pravda and its affiliated organs are deluged
with its discussion. When this discussion has had time to
spread through the country, congresses of Communists meet
in the provincial centres, and members of the Central

Committee go down to these conferences to defend the
"theses" which the Committee has issued. These provincial
congresses, exclusively Communist, send their delegates of
an All-Russian Congress. There the "theses" of the Central
Committee get altered, confirmed, or, in the case of an
obviously unpersuaded and large opposition in the party, are
referred back or in other ways shelved. Then the delegates,
even those who have been in opposition at the congress, go
back to the country pledged to defend the position of the
majority. This sometimes has curious results. For example,
I heard Communist Trades Unionists fiercely arguing
against certain clauses in the theses on industrial conscription
at a Communist Congress at the Kremlin; less than a week
afterwards I heard these same men defending precisely these
clauses at a Trades Union Congress over the way, they
loyally abiding by the collective opinion of their fellow
Communists and subject to particularly uncomfortable
heckling from people who vociferously reminded them
(since the Communist debates had been published) that they
were now defending what, a few days before, they had
vehemently attacked.

The great strength of the Communist Party is comparable to
the strength of the Jesuits, who, similarly, put themselves
and their opinions at the disposal of the body politic of their
fellow members. Until a decision had been made, a
Communist is perfectly free to do his best to prevent it being
made, to urge alterations in it, or to supply a rival decision,
but once it has been made he will support it without
changing his private opinion. In all mixed congresses, rather
than break the party discipline, he will give his vote for it,
speak in favor of it, and use against its adversaries the very
arguments that have been used against himself. He has his
share in electing the local Communist Committee, and,
indirectly, in electing the all-powerful Central Committee of
the party, and he binds himself to do at any moment in his
life exactly what these Committees decide for him.
These Committees decide the use that is to be made of the
lives, not only of the rank and file of the party, but also of
their own members. Even a member of the Central
Committee does not escape. He may be voted by his fellow
members into leaving a job he likes and taking up another he
detests in which they think his particular talents will better
serve the party aims. To become a member of the

Communist Party involves a kind of intellectual abdication,
or, to put it differently, a readiness at any moment to place
the collective wisdom of the party's Committee above one's
individual instincts or ideas. You may influence its
decisions, you may even get it to endorse your own, but
Lenin himself, if he were to fail on any occasion to obtain
the agreement of a majority in the Central Committee,
would have to do precisely what the Committee should tell
him. Lenin's opinion carries great weight because he is
Lenin, but it carries less weight than that of the Central
Committee, of which he forms a nineteenth part. On the
other hand, the opinion of Lenin and a very small group of
outstanding figures is supported by great prestige inside the
Committee, and that of the Committee is supported
by overwhelming prestige among the rank and file. The
result is that this small group is nearly always sure of being
able to use the whole vote of 600,000 Communists, in the
realization of its decisions.

Now 600,000 men and women acting on the instructions of
a highly centralized directive, all the important decisions of
which have been thrashed out and re-thrashed until they
have general support within the party; 600,000 men and
women prepared, not only to vote in support of these
decisions, but with a carefully fostered readiness to sacrifice
their lives for them if necessary; 600,000 men and women
who are persuaded that by their way alone is humanity to be
saved; who are persuaded (to put it as cynically and
unsympathetically as possible) that the noblest death one can
die is in carrying out a decision of the Central Committee;
such a body, even in a country such as Russia, is an
enormously strong embodiment of human will, an
instrument of struggle capable of working something very
like miracles. It can be and is controlled like an army in
battle. It can mobilize its members, 10 per cent. of them,
50 per cent., the local Committees choosing them, and send
them to the front when the front is in danger, or to the
railways and repair shops when it is decided that the weakest
point is that of transport. If its only task were to fight those
organizations of loosely knit and only momentarily united
interests which are opposed to it, those jerry-built alliances
of Reactionaries with Liberals, United-Indivisible-Russians
with Ukrainians, Agrarians with Sugar-Refiners,
Monarchists with Republicans, that task would long ago

have been finished. But it has to fight something infinitely
stronger than these in fighting the economic ruin of Russia,
which, if it is too strong, too powerful to be arrested by the
Communists, would make short work of those who are
without any such fanatic single-minded and perfectly
disciplined organization.


I have already suggested that although the small Central
Committee of the Communist Party does invariably get its
own way, there are essential differences between this
Dictatorship and the dictatorship of, for example, a General.
The main difference is that whereas the General merely
writes an order about which most people hear for the first
time only when it is promulgated, the Central Committee
prepares the way for its dictation by a most elaborate series
of discussions and counter discussions throughout the
country, whereby it wins the bulk of the Communist Party to
its opinion, after which it proceeds through local and general
congresses to do the same with the Trades Unions. This
done, a further series of propaganda meetings among the
people actually to be affected smooths the way for the
introduction of whatever new measure is being carried
through at the moment. All this talk, besides lessening the
amount of physical force necessary in carrying out a
decision, must also avoid, at least in part, the deadening
effect that would be caused by mere compulsory obedience
to the unexplained orders of a military dictator. Of the
reality of the Communist Dictatorship I have no sort of
doubt. But its methods are such as tend towards the
awakening of a political consciousness which, if and when
normal conditions-of feeding and peace, for example-are
attained, will make dictatorship of any kind almost

To illustrate these methods of the Dictatorship, I cannot do
better than copy into this book some pages of my diary

written in March of this year when I was present at one of
the provincial conferences which were held in preparation of
the All-Russian Communist Conference at the end of the

At seven in the evening Radek called for me and took me to
the Jaroslavl station, where we met Larin, whom I had
known in 1918. An old Menshevik, he was the originator
and most urgent supporter of the decree annulling the
foreign debts. He is a very ill man, partially paralyzed,
having to use both hands even to get food to his mouth or to
turn over the leaves of a book. In spite of this he is one of
the hardest workers in Russia, and although his obstinacy,
his hatred of compromise, and a sort of mixed originality
and perverseness keep him almost permanently at
loggerheads with the Central Committee, he retains
everybody's respect because of the real heroism with which
he conquers physical disabilities which long ago would have
overwhelmed a less unbreakable spirit. Both Radek and
Larin were going to the Communist Conference at Jaroslavl
which was to consider the new theses of the Central
Committee of the party with regard to Industrial
Conscription. Radek was going to defend the position of the
Central Committee, Larin to defend his own. Both are old
friends. As Radek said to me, he intended to destroy Larin's
position, but not, if he could help it, prevent Larin being
nominated among the Jaroslavl delegates to All-Russian
Conference which was in preparation. Larin, whose work
keeps him continually traveling, has his own car, specially
arranged so that his uninterrupted labor shall have as
little effect as possible on his dangerously frail body. Radek
and I traveled in one of the special cars of the Central
Executive Committee, of which he is a member.

The car seemed very clean, but, as an additional precaution,
we began by rubbing turpentine on our necks and wrists and
angles for the discouragement of lice, now generally known
as "Semashki" from the name of Semashko, the Commissar
of Public Health, who wages unceasing war for their
destruction as the carriers of typhus germs.I rubbed the
turpentine so energetically into my neck that it burnt like a
collar of fire, and for a long time I was unable to get to sleep.

In the morning Radek, the two conductors who had charge
of the wagons and I sat down together to breakfast and had
a very merry meal, they providing cheese and bread and I a
tin of corned beef providently sent out from home by the
Manchester Guardian. We cooked up some coffee on a
little spirit stove, which, in a neat basket together with plates,
knives, forks, etc. (now almost unobtainable in Russia) had been
a parting present from the German Spartacists to Radek when
he was released from prison in Berlin and allowed to leave Germany.

The morning was bright and clear, and we had an excellent
view of Jaroslavl when we drove from the station to the
town, which is a mile or so off the line of the railway. The
sun poured down on the white snow, on the barges still
frozen into the Volga River, and on the gilt and painted
domes and cupolas of the town. Many of the buildings had
been destroyed during the rising artificially provoked in July,
19l8, and its subsequent suppression. More damage was
done then than was necessary, because the town was
recaptured by troops which had been deserted by most of
their officers, and therefore hammered away with artillery
without any very definite plan of attack. The more
important of the damaged buildings, such as the waterworks
and the power station, have been repaired, the tramway was
working, and, after Moscow, the town seemed clean, but
plenty of ruins remained as memorials of that wanton and
unjustifiable piece of folly which, it was supposed, would be
the signal for a general rising.

We drove to the Hotel Bristol, now the headquarters of
the Jaroslavl Executive Committee, where Rostopchin, the
president, discussed with Larin and Radek the programme
arranged for the conference. It was then proposed that we
should have something to eat, when a very curious state of
affairs (and one extremely Russian) was revealed. Rostopchin
admitted that the commissariat arrangements of
the Soviet and its Executive Committee were very bad. But
in the center of the town there is a nunnery which was very
badly damaged during the bombardment and is now used as
a sort of prison or concentration camp for a Labor
Regiment. Peasants from the surrounding country who have
refused to give up their proper contribution of corn, or leave
otherwise disobeyed the laws, are, for punishment, lodged
here, and made to expiate their sins by work. It so
happens, Rostopchin explained, that the officer in charge of the
prison feeding arrangements is a very energetic fellow, who had
served in the old army in a similar capacity, and the meals
served out to the prisoners are so much better than those
produced in the Soviet headquarters, that the members of
the Executive Committee make a practice of walking
over to the prison to dine. They invited us to do the
same. Larin did not feel up to the walk, so he remained
in the Soviet House to eat an inferior meal, while Radek and I,
with Rostopchin and three other members of the local
committee walked round to the prison. The bell tower of
the old nunnery had been half shot away by artillery, and is
in such a precarious condition that it is proposed to pull it
down. But on passing under it we came into a wide
courtyard surrounded by two-story whitewashed buildings
that seemed scarcely to have suffered at all. We found the
refectory in one of these buildings. It was astonishingly
clean. There were wooden tables, of course without cloths,
and each man had a wooden spoon and a hunk of bread. A
great bowl of really excellent soup was put down in the
middle of table, and we fell to hungrily enough. I made
more mess on the table than any one else, because it requires
considerable practice to convey almost boiling soup from a
distant bowl to one's mouth without spilling it in a shallow
wooden spoon four inches in diameter, and, having got it to
one's mouth, to get any of it in without slopping over on
either side. The regular diners there seemed to find no
difficulty in it at all. One of the prisoners who mopped up
after my disasters said I had better join them for a week,
when I should find it quite easy. The soup bowl was
followed by a fry of potatoes, quantities of which are grown
in the district. For dealing with these I found the wooden
spoon quite efficient. After that we had glasses of some sort
of substitute for tea.

The Conference was held in the town theatre. There was a
hint of comedy in the fact that the orchestra was playing the
prelude to some very cheerful opera before the curtain rang
up. Radek characteristically remarked that such music
should be followed by something more sensational than a
conference, proposed to me that we should form a tableau
to illustrate the new peaceful policy of England with regard to
Russia. As it was a party conference, I had really no right to
be there, but Radek had arranged with Rostopchin that I

should come in with himself, and be allowed to sit in the
wings at the side of the stage. On the stage were
Rostopchin, Radek, Larin and various members of the
Communist Party Committee in the district. Everything
was ready, but the orchestra went on with its jig music on
the other side of the curtain. A message was sent to them.
The music stopped with a jerk. The curtain rose, disclosing
a crowded auditorium. Everbody stood up, both on the
stage and in the theater, and sang, accompanied by the
orchestra, first the "Internationale" and then the song for
those who had died for the revolution. Then except for two
or three politically minded musicians , the orchestra vanished
away and the Conference began.

Unlike many of the meetings and conferences at which I
have been present in Russia, this Jaroslavl Conference
seemed to me to include practically none but men and
women who either were or had been actual manual workers.
I looked over row after row of faces in the theatre, and
could only find two faces which I thought might be Jewish,
and none that obviously belonged to the "intelligentsia." I
found on inquiry that only three of the Communists present,
excluding Radek and Larin, were old exiled and imprisoned
revolutionaries of the educated class. Of these, two were on
the platform. All the rest were from the working class.
The great majority of them, of course, had joined the
Communists in 1917, but a dozen or so had been in the
party as long as the first Russian revolution of 1905.

Radek, who was tremendously cheered (his long
imprisonment in Germany, during which time few in Russia
thought that they would see him alive again, has made him
something of a popular hero) made a long, interesting and
pugnacious speech setting out the grounds on which the
Central Committee base their ideas about Industrial
Conscription. These ideas are embodied in the series of
theses issued by the Central Committee in January (see p.
134). Larin, who was very tired after the journey and
patently conscious that Radek was a formidable opponent,
made a speech setting out his reasons for differing with the
Central Committee, and proposed an ingenious resolution,
which, while expressing approval of the general position of
the Committee, included four supplementary modifications

which, as a matter of fact, nullified that position altogether.
It was then about ten at night, and the Conference
adjourned. We drove round to the prison in sledges,
and by way of supper had some more soup and potatoes,
and so back to the railway station to sleep in the cars.

Next day the Conference opened about noon, when there
was a long discussion of the points at issue. Workman after
workman came to the platform and gave his view. Some of
the speeches were a little naive, as when one soldier said that
Comrades Lenin and Trotsky had often before pointed out
difficult roads, and that whenever they had been followed
they had shown the way to victory, and that therefore,
though there was much in the Central Committee's theses
that was hard to digest, he was for giving them complete
support, confident that, as Comrades Lenin and Trotsky
were in favor of them, they were likely to be right this time,
as so often heretofore. But for the most part the speeches
were directly concerned with the problem under discussion,
and showed a political consciousness which would have
been almost incredible three years ago. The Red Army
served as a text for many, who said that the methods which
had produced that army and its victories over the Whites had
been proved successful and should be used to produce a
Red Army of Labor and similar victories on the bloodless
front against economic disaster. Nobody seemed to question
the main idea of compulsory labor. The contest that aroused
real bitterness was between the methods of individual and
collegiate command. The new proposals lead eventually
towards individual command, and fears were expressed lest
this should mean putting summary powers into the hands of
bourgeois specialists, thus nullifying "workers' control". In
reply, it was pointed out that individual command had
proved necessary in the army and had resulted in victory for
the revolution. The question was not between specialists
and no specialists. Everybody knew that specialists were
necessary. The question was how to get the most out of
them. Effective political control had secured that bourgeois
specialists, old officers, led to victory the army of the Red
Republic. The same result could be secured in the factories
in the same way. It was pointed out that in one year they
had succeeded in training 32,000 Red Commanders, that is
to say, officers from the working class itself, and that it was
not Utopian to hope and work for a similar output of

workmen specialists, technically trained, and therefore
themselves qualified for individual command in the factories.
Meanwhile there was nothing against the employment of
Political Commissars in the factories as formerly in the
regiments, to control in other than technical matters the
doings of the specialists. On the other hand, it was said that
the appointment of Commissars would tend to make
Communists unpopular, since inevitably in many cases they
would have to support the specialists against the workmen,
and that the collegiate system made the workmen feel that
they were actually the masters, and so gave possibilities of
enthusiastic work not otherwise obtainable. This last point
was hotly challenged. It was said that collegiate control
meant little in effect, except waste of time and efficiency,
because at worst work was delayed by disputes and at best
the workmen members of the college merely countersigned
the orders decided upon by the specialists. The enthusiastic
work was said to be a fairy story. If it were really to be
found then there would be no need for a conference to
discover how to get it.

The most serious opposition, or at least the most serious
argument put forward, for there was less opposition than
actual discussion, came from some of the representatives of
the Trade Unionists. A good deal was said about the
position of the Trades Unions in a Socialist State. There
was general recognition that since the Trade Unions
themselves controlled the conditions of labor and wages, the
whole of their old work of organizing strikes against
capitalists had ceased to have any meaning, since to strike
now would be to strike against their own decisions. At the
same time, certain tendencies to Syndicalism were still in
existence, tendencies which might well lead to conflict
between different unions, so that, for example, the match
makers or the metal worker, might wish to strike a bargain
with the State, as of one country with another, and this
might easily lead to a complete collapse of the socialist system.

The one thing on which the speakers were in complete
agreement was the absolute need of an effort in industry
equal to, if not greater than, the effort made in the army. I
thought it significant that in many of the speeches the
importance of this effort was urged as the only possible

means of retaining the support of the peasants. There
was a tacit recognition that the Conference represented town
workers only. Larin, who had belonged to the old school
which had grown up with its eyes on the industrial countries
of the West and believed that revolution could be brought
about by the town workers alone, that it was exclusively their
affair, and that all else was of minor importance,
unguardedly spoke of the peasant as "our neighbor."
In Javoslavl, country and town are too near to allow the main
problem of the revolution to be thus easily dismissed. It was
instantly pointed out that the relation was much more
intimate, and that, even if it were only "neighborly," peace
could not long be preserved if it were continually necessary
for one neighbor to steal the chickens of the other. These
town workers of a district for the most part agricultural were
very sure that the most urgent of all tasks was to raise
industry to the point at which the town would really be able
to supply the village with its needs.

Larin and Radek severally summed up and made final
attacks on each other's positions, after which Radek's
resolution approving the theses of the Central Committee
was passed almost unanimously. Larin's four amendments
received 1, 3, 7 and 1 vote apiece. This result was received
with cheering throughout the theater, and showed the
importance of such Conferences in smoothing the way of
the Dictatorship, since it had been quite obvious when the
discussion began that a very much larger proportion of the
delegates than finally voted for his resolution had been more
or less in sympathy with Larin in his opposition to the
Central Committee.

There followed elections to the Party Conference in
Moscow. Rostopchin, the president, read a list which had
been submitted by the various ouyezds in the Jaroslavl
Government. They were to send to Moscow fifteen
delegates with the right to vote, together with another fifteen
with the right to speak but not to vote. Larin, who had done
much work in the district, was mentioned as one of the
fifteen voting delegates, but he stood up and said that as the
Conference had so clearly expressed its disagreement with
his views, he thought it better to withdraw his candidature.
Rostopchin put it to the Conference that although they disagreed

with Larin, yet it would be as well that he should have
the opportunity of stating his views at the All-Russian Conference,
so that discussion there should be as final and as many-sided
as possible. The Conference expressed its agreement with
this. Larin withdrew his withdrawal, and was presently
elected. The main object of these conferences in
unifying opinion and in arming Communists with
argument for the defence of this unified opinion a
mong the masses was again illustrated when the
Conference, in leaving it to the ouyezds to choose for
themselves the non-voting delegates urged them to select
wherever possible people who would have the widest
opportunities of explaining on their return to the district
whatever results might be reached in Moscow.

It was now pretty late in the evening, and after another very
satisfactory visit to the prison we drove back to the station.
Larin, who was very disheartened, realizing that he had lost
much support in the course of the discussion, settled down
to work, and buried himself in a mass of statistics. I
prepared to go to bed, but we had hardly got into the car
when there was a tap at the door and a couple of
railwaymen came in. They explained that a few hundred
yards away along the line a concert and entertainment
arranged by the Jaroslavl railwaymen was going on, and that
their committee, hearing that Radek was at the station, had
sent them to ask him to come over and say a few words to
them if he were not too tired.

"Come along," said Radek, and we walked in the dark along
the railway lines to a big one-story wooden shanty, where an
electric lamp lit a great placard, "Railwaymen's Reading
Room." We went into a packed hall. Every seat was
occupied by railway workers and their wives and children.
The gangways on either side were full of those who had not
found room on the benches. We wriggled and pushed our
way through this crowd, who were watching a play staged
and acted by the railwaymen themselves, to a side door,
through which we climbed up into the wings, and slid across
the stage behind the scenery into a tiny dressing-room.
Here Radek was laid hold of by the Master of the Ceremonies,
who, it seemed, was also part editor of a railwaymen's
newspaper, and made to give a long account of the

present situation of Soviet Russia's Foreign Affairs.
The little box of a room filled to a solid mass as
policemen, generals and ladies of the old regime threw
off their costumes, and, in their working clothes,
plain signalmen and engine-drivers, pressed round to listen.
When the act ended, one of the railwaymen went to the front of
the stage and announced that Radek, who had lately come back
after imprisonment in Germany for the cause of revolution, was going
to talk to them about the general state of affairs. I saw Radek
grin atthis forecast of his speech. I understood why, when he
began to speak. He led off by a direct and furious onslaught
on the railway workers in general, demanding work, work
and more work, telling them that as the Red Army had been
the vanguard of the revolution hitherto, and had starved and
fought and given lives to save those at home from Denikin
and Kolchak, so now it was the turn of the railway workers
on whose efforts not only the Red Army but also the whole
future of Russia depended. He addressed himself to the
women, telling them in very bad Russian that unless their
men worked superhumanly they would see their babies die
from starvation next winter. I saw women nudge their
husbands as they listened. Instead of giving them a pleasant,
interesting sketch of the international position, which, no
doubt, was what they had expected, he took the opportunity
to tell them exactly how things stood at home. And the
amazing thing was that they seemed to be pleased. They
listened with extreme attention, wanted to turn out some one
who had a sneezing fit at the far end of the hall, and nearly
lifted the roof off with cheering when Radek had done. I
wondered what sort of reception a man would have who in
another country interrupted a play to hammer home truths
about the need of work into an audience of working men
who had gathered solely for the purpose of legitimate
recreation. It was not as if he sugared the medicine he gave
them. His speech was nothing but demands for discipline
and work, coupled with prophecy of disaster in case work
and discipline failed. It was delivered like all his speeches,
with a strong Polish accent and a steady succession of
mistakes in grammar.

As we walked home along the railway lines, half a dozen of
the railwaymen pressed around Radek, and almost fought
with each other as to who should walk next to him.
And Radek entirely happy, delighted at his success in

giving them a bombshell instead of a bouquet, with
one stout fellow on one arm, another on the other, two
or three more listening in front and behind, continued rubbing
it into them until we reached our wagon, when, after a
general handshaking, they disappeared into the night.


Trade Unions in Russia are in a different position from that
which is common to all other Trades Unions in the world.
In other countries the Trades Unions are a force with whose
opposition the Government must reckon. In Russia the
Government reckons not on the possible opposition of the
Trades Unions, but on their help for realizing its most
difficult measures, and for undermining and overwhelming
any opposition which those measures may encounter. The
Trades Unions in Russia, instead of being an organization
outside the State protecting the interests of a class against the
governing class, have become a part of the State
organization. Since, during the present period of the
revolution the backbone of the State organization is the
Communist Party, the Trade Unions have come to be
practically an extension of the party organization. This, of
course, would be indignantly denied both by Trade
Unionists and Communists. Still, in the preface to the
All-Russian Trades Union Reports for 1919, Glebov, one of
the best-known Trade Union leaders whom I remember in
the spring of last year objecting to the use of bourgeois
specialists in their proper places, admits as much in the
following muddleheaded statement:-

"The base of the proletarian dictatorship is the Communist
Party, which in general directs all the political and economic
work of the State, leaning, first of all, on the Soviets as on
the more revolutionary form of dictatorship of the
proletariat, and secondly on the Trades Unions, as
organizations which economically unite the proletariat of
factory and workshop as the vanguard of the revolution, and
as organizations of the new socialistic construction of the
State. Thus the Trade Unions must be considered as a base
of the Soviet State, as an organic form complementary to the
other forms of the Proletariat Dictatorship." These two elaborate
sentences constitute an admission of what I have just said.

Trades Unionists of other countries must regard the fate of
their Russian colleagues with horror or with satisfaction,
according to their views of events in Russia taken as a
whole. If they do not believe that there has been a social
revolution in Russia, they must regard the present position of
the Russian Trades Unions as the reward of a complete
defeat of Trade Unionism, in which a Capitalist government
has been able to lay violent hands on the organization which
was protecting the workers against it. If, on the other hand,
they believe that there has been a social revolution, so that
the class organized in Trades Unions is now, identical with
the governing, class (of employers, etc.) against which the
unions once struggled, then they must regard the present
position as a natural and satisfactory result of victory.

When I was in Moscow in the spring of this year the Russian
Trades Unions received a telegram from the Trades Union
Congress at Amsterdam, a telegram which admirably
illustrated the impossibility of separating judgment of the
present position of the Unions from judgments of the
Russian revolution as a whole. It encouraged the Unions "in
their struggle" and promised support in that struggle. The
Communists immediately asked "What struggle?
Against the capitalist system in Russia which does not exist?
Or against capitalist systems outside Russia?" They said that
either the telegram meant this latter only, or it meant that its
writers did not believe that there had been a social revolution
in Russia. The point is arguable. If one believes that
revolution is an impossibility, one can reason from that
belief and say that in spite of certain upheavals in Russia the
fundamental arrangement of society is the same there as in
other countries, so that the position of the Trade Unions
there must be the same, and, as in other countries they must
be still engaged in augmenting the dinners of their members
at the expense of the dinners of the capitalists which, in the
long run (if that were possible) they would abolish. If, on
the other hand, one believes that social revolution has
actually occurred, to speak of Trades Unions continuing the
struggle in which they conquered something like three years

ago, is to urge them to a sterile fanaticism which has been
neatly described by Professor Santayana as a redoubling of
your effort when you have forgotten your aim.

It 's probably true that the "aim" of the Trades Unions
was more clearly defined in Russia than elsewhere. In
England during the greater part of their history the Trades
Unions have not been in conscious opposition to the State.
In Russia this position was forced on the Trades Unions
almost before they had time to get to work. They were
born, so to speak, with red flags in their hands. They grew
up under circumstances of extreme difficulty and
persecution. From 1905 on they were in decided opposition
to the existing system, and were revolutionary rather than
merely mitigatory organizations.

Before 1905 they were little more than associations for
mutual help, very weak, spending most of their energies in
self-preservation from the police, and hiding their character
as class organizations by electing more or less Liberal
managers and employers as "honorary members." 1905,
however, settled their revolutionary character. In September
of that year there was a Conference at Moscow, where it
was decided to call an All-Russian Trades Union Congress.
Reaction in Russia made this impossible, and the most they
could do was to have another small Conference in
February, 1906, which, however, defined their object as that
of creating a general Trade Union Movement organized on
All-Russian lines. The temper of the Trades Unions then,
and the condition of the country at that time, may be judged
from the fact that although they were merely working for the
right to form Unions, the right to strike, etc., they passed the
following significant resolution: "Neither from the present
Government nor from the future State Duma can be
expected realization of freedom of coalition. This
Conference considers the legalization of the Trades Unions
under present conditions absolutely impossible." The
Conference was right. For twelve years after that there were
no Trades Unions Conferences in Russia. Not until June,
1917, three months after the March Revolution, was the
third Trade Union Conference able to meet. This Conference
reaffirmed the revolutionary character of the Russian Trades Unions.

At that time the dominant party in the Soviets was that of the
Mensheviks, who were opposed to the formation of a Soviet
Government, and were supporting the provisional Cabinet of
Kerensky. The Trades Unions were actually at that time
more revolutionary than the Soviets. This third Conference
passed several resolutions, which show clearly enough that
the present position of the Unions has not been brought
about by any violence of the Communists from without, but
was definitely promised by tendencies inside the Unions at a
time when the Communists were probably the least
authoritative party in Russia. This Conference of June,
1917, resolved that the Trades Unions should not only
"remain militant class organizations . . . but . . . should
support the activities of the Soviets of soldiers and
deputies." They thus clearly showed on which side they
stood in the struggle then proceeding. Nor was this all. They
also, though the Mensheviks were still the dominant party,
resolved on that system of internal organizations and
grouping, which has been actually realized under the
Communists. I quote again from the resolution of this Conference:

"The evolution of the economic struggle demands from the
workers such forms of professional organization as, basing
themselves on the connection between various groups of
workers in the process of production, should unite
within a general organization, and under general leadership,
as large masses of workers as possible occupied in
enterprises of the same kind, or in similar professions. With
this object the workers should organize themselves
professionally, not by shops or trades, but by productions, so
that all the workers of a given enterprise should belong to
one Union, even if they belong to different professions and
even different productions." That which was then no more
than a design is now an accurate description of Trades
Union organization in Russia. Further, much that at present
surprises the foreign inquirer was planned and considered
desirable then, before the Communists had won a majority
either in the Unions or in the Soviet. Thus this same third
Conference resolved that "in the interests of greater
efficiency and success in the economic struggle, a
professional organization should be built on the principle of
democratic centralism, assuring to every member a share in
the affairs of the organization and, at the same time,
obtaining unity in the leadership of the struggle." Finally,

"Unity in the direction (leadership) of the economic
struggle demands unity in the exchequer of the Trades

The point that I wish to make in thus illustrating the
pre-Communist tendencies of the Russian Trades Unions is not
simply that if their present position is undesirable they have
only themselves to thank for it, but that in Russia the Trades
Union movement before the October Revolution was
working in the direction of such a revolution, that the events
of October represented something like a Trade Union
victory, so that the present position of the Unions as part of
the organization defending that victory, as part of the system
of government set up by that revolution, is logical and was to
be expected. I have illustrated this from resolutions, because
these give statements in words easily comparable with what

has come to pass. It would be equally easy to point to deeds
instead of words if we need more forcible though less
accurate illustrations.

Thus, at the time of the Moscow Congress the Soviets, then
Mensheviks, who were represented at the Congress (the
object of the Congress was to whip up support for the
Coalition Government) were against strikes of protest. The
Trades Unions took a point of view nearer that of
the Bolsheviks, and the strikes in Moscow took place in spite
of the Soviets. After the Kornilov affair, when the Mensheviks
were still struggling for coalition with the bourgeois parties, the
Trades Unions quite definitely took the Bolshevik standpoint.

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